A weekly roundup of small-business developments.
What’s affecting me, my clients and other small-business owners this week.
The Debt Ceiling: Spare Change Anyone?
As the debt ceiling deadline approaches, a new solution to the problem is floated: letting the Treasury Department mint a trillion-dollar coin. A Republican congressman tries to thwart the idea, but the White House didn’t rule it out. Felix Salmon explains why it won’t happen: “What we’re talking about here has a kind of cold war mutually-assured-destruction mentality.” Neil Irwin says the coin idea is “idiotic,” but says, “The fact that it is idiotic is kind of the point.” Edward D. Kleinbard thinks that issuing scrip could be another workaround.
Outlook: Nothing Magical
A popular small-business sentiment index continues to register low readings, and a Staples study finds that many small-business owners are feeling overworked. But according to another study, most small-business owners are excited about the year’s prospects. A new survey from Visa finds that the top areas of concern include the cost of health insurance, attracting new customers and rising taxes. Adam Ozimek believes there is nothing magical about small businesses: “We would be better off if people would stop romanticizing small businesses and instead focused on the outcomes that really matter, like economic growth and unemployment.” Sam Barry and Kathi Kamen Goldmark say that the Soup Nazi is one of the six types of business owners.
The Economy: Shoddy Data
The global economy is starting 2013 surprisingly strong and American oil imports have fallen to their lowest in 25 years. Corporate profits are going up (in part because wages are going down). Office vacancy rates declined slightly. Matthew Yglesias complains that economists are using shoddy data. One member of the Federal Reserve Board disagrees strongly with the board’s policies. Companies are flooding the market with new debt.
Management: Get More Done
Regus offers five tips to expand your business in 2013. Eddie Yoon believes that to spur growth, you must focus on “prosumers.” In an effort to build her business, Bridget Ingebrigtsen is starting her year by building up her sources of energy. Geoffrey James offers 10 easy ways to get more done, including: “Never pick up on an unknown caller.” David Sumka predicts that monetizing data will be the holy grail of 21st-century businesses. Alyson Stanfield suggests five ways to simplify your art business in 2013. Pedro Hernandez shares three tips for small manufacturers, and Al Bredenberg explains how manufacturing leaders are beating economic volatility. Here are 10 restaurant trends for 2013, and a prankster pulls a prank on a few drive-through windows. This is the kind of message restaurant employees should be leaving on receipts. And here’s how companies win lifelong customers.
Your People: Where Are the Good Applicants?
Sharlyn Lauby explains how to hire great employees without a human resources department. If you work for a company run by a male chief executive whose wife is about to give birth — particularly a firstborn — you should hope they have a daughter. This may be the year your employees decide to quit. Catherine Rampell wonders if there really are no good job applicants out there. The National Hockey League settles its lockout. The White House decides not to deport Piers Morgan. A photographer has a very close encounter with a polar bear.
Social Media: Six Small-Business Myths
Mack Collier points out the biggest mistake companies make when engaging fans through social media. David Sims debunks six small-business myths, including: “Social media is your ticket to success.” LinkedIn creates an interesting infographic to celebrate hitting 200 million members. Here’s how to get 10,000 “shares” on Facebook in 24 hours. Here are three small businesses that are successful on Facebook. This infographic analyzes whether business blogging is better than Facebook. A Canadian Internet service provider says Facebook advertising does work. But more teenagers use Tumblr than Facebook.
Marketing: Snappy Sales Presentations
Small businesses expect to increase ad spending in 2013. Jill Konrath suggests the best books for snappy sales presentations. In this video, Cilian Jansen Verplanke shares practical marketing tips. G.B. Oliver has a few examples of product copy that sells. Drew Hendricks shares five things small-business owners should keep in mind when developing a Web site, including: “Be sure to build relevant links.” Cliff Pollan believes there are seven ways to help Sales use marketing content to win buyer trust, including: “Ensure that any content you provide to Sales is easy for buyers to share, follow, or subscribe to.” Ryan Derousseau says there are content-development lessons you can learn from Doctor Who. Michael Rae believes visual content marketing will be the next big thing.
Finance: No 1099-K? You Still Must Pay
A seed-stage venture capital firm sets up shop on Harvard’s campus to catch young, entrepreneurial talent early (maybe some guys who can chug like this). Venture firm financing is at the highest since 2008. If you’re thinking of not paying taxes because you didn’t receive a 1099-K, Jennifer Escalona Dunn suggests you think again. Dawn Fotopulos explains how to manage a small-business credit line. And those crazy accountants at WithumSmith & Brown are at it again.
Around the Country: Selling Out in California
Sales of small businesses hit a four-year high in California. Susan Johnston wants you to think about whether your business can be sold. Southern Maine Community College will hold a “Launch or Grow Small Business Success Conference” on Jan. 25. Starbucks rolls out a $1 reusable cup to reduce waste. Goldman Sachs extends its small-business program into Philadelphia, its 11th location. A Jersey City escalator rolls the wrong way.
Around the World: Doing Business in India
Euro zone unemployment hits another record high. Industrial output in Germany is below expectations. Greece’s deficit improves but its jobless rate soars. These charts show that China doesn’t have its old capacity to grow. Asia leads the world in the latest index of economic freedom. Gautam Chikermane says there are seven reasons you should be doing business in India. People in Sweden are screaming. What did President Vladimir Putin say to terrify this little boy?
C.E.S.: So Uncool, It’s Cool?
Here are seven standout technologies from last week’s Consumer Electronics Show, and this was the biggest news from the show’s press day. Mobility took the stage, Intel’s ultrabook triumphed quietly and Lenovo showed off a table PC. Alexia Tsotsis says C.E.S. is so uncool it may finally be cool. This was the nerdiest start-up at the show. Tech stock shares barely moved. Drew McLellan explains how to tell if your company is ready for C.E.S.: “You need to be ready for either end of the ‘oh my God’ spectrum.” Snooki unveiled her headphones and phones, and 50 Cent talked tech. Chinese electronics giants competed for American eyes.
Technology: Breaking the Internet
Chris Pirillo answers the question of whether to get a Windows Surface Pro. Tablet shipments are expected to pass notebook shipments. Here’s everything you need to know about Intel’s new chips. Mobile apps drive a rapid change in searches, and a British report says 20 percent of online sales are expected to go to mobile. Verizon announces new small-business plans for mobile users. This is what it’s like to experience technology after 25 years in jail. Aaron Pitman says that now is the best time to buy domains. Here are 13 solar start-ups to watch in 2013. And gadgets are slowly breaking the Internet. Ramon Ray sells his Small-Business Summit event. Linda Forshaw explains why customer relationship management is so important: “A C.R.M. solution enables knowledge about existing and potential customers to be shared throughout the business.” C.R.M. vendor Zoho offers new features for location and productivity. Sage’s ACT counters with social updates to help small businesses capitalize on customer insights and interests. Another C.R.M. and marketing tech company, Infusionsoft, raises $54 million.
Tweet of the Week
@colinwilson133 (National Hockey League player): Pumped I am no longer an unemployed 23 yr old living with his parents
The Week’s Best
Chris Long, who works at a Chicago-area Home Depot, lists a few things that every small-business owner should know about generators, including: “Before making a purchase, discuss your energy needs with a company representative or salesperson. A typical generator cannot harness enough wattage to power an entire commercial building. Therefore, focus on what your main priorities will be in the event of a power outage and ensure that the model you select can satisfy your needs.”
This Week’s Question: Do you think small businesses are overly romanticized?